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Food: A Cultural Culinary History cover art

Food: A Cultural Culinary History

By: Ken Albala, The Great Courses
Narrated by: Ken Albala
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Editor reviews

Food has never been more interesting than in Food: A Cultural Culinary History by The Great Courses as part of their Better Living series. Narrator and award-winning Professor Ken Albala takes listeners of this historical audiobook on a delectable journey into the history of agriculture, cooking, food culture and beliefs. Listeners will gain fascinating insights into food practices throughout history. From the first hunter-gatherer humans of the past to the coveted Michelin stars in the present. Listeners will gain a detailed understanding of just how important food is to the human identity. Available now from Audible.

Summary

Eating is an indispensable human activity. As a result, whether we realize it or not, the drive to obtain food has been a major catalyst across all of history, from prehistoric times to the present. Epicure Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin said it best: "Gastronomy governs the whole life of man."

In fact, civilization itself began in the quest for food. Humanity's transition to agriculture was not only the greatest social revolution in history, but it directly produced the structures and institutions we call "civilization."

In 36 fascinating lectures, award-winning Professor Albala puts this extraordinary subject on the table, taking you on an enthralling journey into the human relationship to food. With this innovative course, you'll travel the world discovering fascinating food lore and culture of all regions and eras - as an eye-opening lesson in history as well as a unique window on what we eat today.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2013 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2013 The Great Courses

What listeners say about Food: A Cultural Culinary History

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An excellent history of food and cooking

it has been a treat to listen to a person with such knowledge and passion talk about a subject which is fundamental to us all. Lots of entertaining little surprises in this history as well as connections to broad waves of history that are also surprising and illuminating. I like that he includes value judgments about the present. It's great to learn from history, as he suggests.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Nice summary of historical & regional cuisine

I was hoping this course would go into how dishes and food culture developed differently around the world and be a kind of evolutionary history of food (how different dishes arise, spread and change). Largely speaking, this is what it did. I liked the lecturer, and really enjoyed the course. My biggest criticism is that it was sightly (but not fully) geared towards Eurocentrism and to more recent centuries, but this was probably due to limitations in what is known, and some attempts were made to make it broader. Some interesting speculation about the future in the final lecture.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

I struggled finishing this

This is not a bad book perse but perhaps drawn out too much. The lecturer is very passionate about the subject which is good. Sadly forgotten most of what he said since I started listening about 3 months ago.

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Fascinating & Engaging - A Must Listen!

Wow, what a fascinating lecture series. Who knew that food is such an excellent narrative for history in general, which makes sense given that we always have, and always will, need to eat! I really wish I had learnt this kind of thing in school. This lecture series is packed full of interesting facts, like the origins of individual food ingredients, the spice trade, the evolution of recipes and diets, the role that religion & migration has played in what we eat and all the way up to fast food, foodie movements etc.

It's also very interesting - and relevant - to understand how the industrialisation of the food industry has been a significant vehicle in boosting capitalism & political agendas, often at the expense of environmental & health concerns.

I think everyone needs to understand this subject matter in order to make better sense of the world today, and also simply to appreciate what we eat even more. I highly recommend listening to this series.

Ken Albala is also possibly the most engaging lecturer I've come across and has set the bar high now for the next Great Courses I have downloaded!

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Enchanting

This was lovely and informative. I highly recommend it to any foodie and avid seeker of informations about how and why we came to eat what we are eating today.

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Made me appreciate the food more

these lectures are written and presented with obvious zest and joy. the only change I would love to see - have an actual audience listening to it so we get human reaction to the lecture, not canned applause.

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History through the lens of gastronomy

This erudite and detailed history of culture and food both inspired and enlightened me! I cannot recommend this highly enough. I chpse this book (or lecture series as it turned out) on a whim but I have savoured the content at my leisure. It is a perfect journey companion, relax or even whilst you cook. I was delighted by the untelligent tone and range of topics. It is anthropology, science, psychology, sociology, creativity and more. Take the chance and try it...

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Very insightful.

This is such a great book! An overview into most food cultures ancient to modern day.

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Fascinating and enjoyable!

Wanted to try out audible lectures and hit jackpot immediately! Absolutely love these lectures! Ken Albala is fascinating to listen to, enthusiastic and thorough and fun!
Sincerely recommend to anyone who has interest for food history, world culture or history overall.

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  • 21-04-16

Fun lectures on why history is all about food!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I'd recommend this to any friend with more than a passing interest in food or history. This fat lecture series might look like hard work but author has a light but authoritative approach and he delivers it with engaging enthusiasm and humour.
I know I'm overly interested in food (who isn't?) but the lecturer completely convinced me that human history has mostly been about the changing cultures of food production and cooking (okay, with a little influence of tecnology, religion, weaponry...)

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